The Breath of Life

Life is like the sweet aroma of a flower. (Does that sound like something Forrest Gump would say?)  As with the most fragrant of flowers, life may vanish before we have the sense to breathe it in!

Still, if you knew that sweetness could disappear so quickly, wouldn’t you savor the aroma for as long as possible? Wouldn’t you want to jealously press the sensual pleasure of it deep into the recesses of your brain?

In yesterday’s post, I juxtaposed the wonder of new life (my baby grandson) with the untimely death of a young woman. Each time I gaze into my grandson’s bright blue eyes, I’m struck by the same realization:  life goes by too fast!

When a young person dies, my mind bubbles over with questions. If I could see into the future, would that awareness change my life? What if I knew the baby in my arms:

  • Would never live to celebrate his or her eighteenth birthday?
  • Might grow to adulthood but reject the foundational things I’d taught him or her?
  • Might grow to adulthood and live wisely and well?

Parenting is an occupation and ministry of right now:  keeping bellies fed and bottoms clean, regulating play time and naps, overseeing homework and chores. Doing it all and then doing it again, without expectation of recompense. There are no guarantees, no certainty parental efforts will effect a desired result.

Eventually, most parents realize each child, for better or worse, will begin to steer an independent course. For all the control we think we have, the outcome is out of our hands.

So what’s a parent to do? Whether your offspring lives nine days, nine years or ninety-nine, you give of yourself, you do the best you can to make right choices, you wrap your kiddos (big or little) in warm embraces, you discipline when necessary and gently teach them about sin, guilt and forgiveness. You remind them God alone is perfect.

In reminding them, we remind ourselves. We are imperfect parents, hobbled by the limits of human frailty, lack of physical resources, etc. that often discourage us from striving to be and give our best. Limitations aren’t necessarily a bad thing:  by God’s design, our lungs function with a limited capacity — breathe in, breathe out … repeat.

No matter how hungrily we inhale the scents of life, they disappear with the next breath. Here’s a simple exercise — do it with me. Breathe in … breathe out … repeat. Most importantly of all, savor each breath, acknowledging that by pouring yourself into your child’s life, what you receive will always exceed whatever it is you’ve given.

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